- Nickname: Clever Piggy
- Facebook: Allen Cunningham
- Twitter: @AllenCunningham
- Birthdate: March 28th 1977
- Birthplace: Riverside, California
- Residence: Ventura, California
- WSOP Bracelets: 5
- Biggest Win: $3,628,513
- Total Winnings: $11,343,073
- Sponsored by: EX Full Tilt Poker
- Full Tilt Username: Allen Cunningham
If anyone wanted any proof that poker is more than just a game of luck then they only have to look to Allen Cunningham. Since his legal play started in 1998 he has had twenty five tournament wins, including 5 WSOP bracelets and well over one hundred cash finishes including 46 WSOP cash finishes, Cunningham is the consummate professional. He has always been looking to move his game forward but he has had to be patient, an ability that he carries over to his poker game.
Cunningham was born in Riverside, California in 1977 and his relatives soon recognized, to their cost, his talent for cards in the kitchen table games he played at a young age. After high school he moved his game into local tribal casinos, slowly building up his bankroll while still living at home, studying and working as a pizza delivery boy.
At 19, Allen abandoned his civil engineering degree at UCLA and began to play cards full-time but he had to wait two years before he could legally enter the non-tribal casinos where the real money was. The first year started modestly with several final table finishes in small tournaments though he secured his first win in the National Championship of Poker at Inglewood in a pot limit tournament.
In 1999, things began to take off when he was awarded the title of ‘best all-round player’ with six final table finishes including two wins in the Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino. The following year, despite the disappointment of having no tournaments wins, Cunningham managed five money finishes in the 31st WSOP and from 2001 to 2008 he has been victorious in at least one tournament each year.
In 2010 he earned first place and $500,000 in the Full Tilt Poker No Limit Hold’em Finals, He continues to finish in the money with regularity.
$ 3,628,513 ranks as his biggest cash prize for the fourth place finish in the 2006 WSOP but it is perhaps surprising that his impressive poker statistics have not given him a much higher profile within the game. The reason for this perhaps lies with his solid, analytical and calm approach to the game and he is not prone to flamboyant displays or emotional outbursts. It appears he is not seeking celebrity status having refused to have his truck ‘pimped’ for a TV show.
Cunningham’s focus is firmly on his poker as his disappointment, we talk about it below, in not winning the 37th WSOP shows; it wasn’t about the money and he left the casino without speaking to the press or fans.
Allen’s pride in his game and controlled, quiet demeanor at the table has earned him much respect from his peers who recognize in him a player with great subtlety and guile. Poker has influenced Cunningham’s private life too as his girlfriend, Melissa Hayden, is also a part of the pro circuit but to help them take their mind off the game once in a while, they have their dog called Muffin.
Luck deserted Allen Cunningham in 2006 when he was playing in the coveted World Series of Poker Texas Hold’em main event. His final table play had been strong and earlier, with fingers on temples and a look of pure concentration, he had correctly read a bluff from Jamie Gold and had won a $5 million hand with an ace high.
However, with just four players left on the final table and with the betting at $1.1 million, Cunningham went all in with 10♦ 10♠. Gold, with a far superior chip count, called with J♦ K♦. The odds were slightly in Cunningham’s favour, 57% to 43%, but he walked away from the table, hands stuffed into his pockets as a nervous smile flickered to his face.
The importance of the hand was apparent to both men, with Gold lacking his usual cockiness. The flop of K♠ A♠ 8♥ was a disaster for Cunningham and no amount of lip-biting or mumbling ‘ten’ could stop the turn card being 7♠ and the river a 3♠.
With a perfunctory handshake for his fellow players, Cunningham left the table and turned his head away when he passed the $12 million first place prize fund as he made his way out of the hall. When asked how it felt to come fourth out of a record breaking 8,772 entrants, he replied, ‘feels pretty awful’, – Allen Cunningham has very high standards.
Last updated May 2013